The Poetry Corner

Woman! When I Behold Thee Flippant, Vain

By John Keats

Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain, Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies; Without that modest softening that enhances The downcast eye, repentant of the pain That its mild light creates to heal again: E'en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances, E'en then my soul with exultation dances For that to love, so long, I've dormant lain: But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender, Heavens! how desperately do I adore Thy winning graces; to be thy defender I hotly burn to be a Calidore A very Red Cross Knight a stout Leander Might I be loved by thee like these of yore. Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair; Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast, Are things on which the dazzled senses rest Till the fond, fixed eyes, forget they stare. From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare To turn my admiration, though unpossess'd They be of what is worthy, though not drest In lovely modesty, and virtues rare. Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark; These lures I straight forget e'en ere I dine, Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark Such charms with mild intelligences shine, My ear is open like a greedy shark, To catch the tunings of a voice divine. Ah! who can e'er forget so fair a being? Who can forget her half retiring sweets? God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats For man's protection. Surely the All-seeing, Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing, Will never give him pinions, who intreats Such innocence to ruin, who vilely cheats A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing One's thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear A lay that once I saw her hand awake, Her form seems floating palpable, and near; Had I e'er seen her from an arbour take A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear, And o'er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.